There’s no denying the offensive power of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But, despite have the second-ranked offense in the NHL, the Leafs have merely a two goal differential on the positive side of the ledger this season. While they have no problem filling the net, they struggle to keep the puck out of their own net. The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton proposes a radical solution to this problem: trade JVR for a defenseman.
James van Riemsdyk has six goals and 11 points in 15 games so far this season, but the 28-year-old pending UFA is due to make a sizeable raise this offseason. With contract extensions forthcoming for superstars Auston Matthews and William Nylander, can the Leafs afford JVR beyond this season? It’s unlikely, and with such a strong need for a top-four defenseman, don’t be surprised if the Leafs ship out VJR for some blue line help.
So, who could the Leafs target in such a scenario? Detroit Red Wings defender Mike Green is on the market. The 32-year-old is putting up nearly a point-per-game this season on a struggling Wings squad. Or how about a big fish like Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Nashville Predators’ Mattias Ekholm? The Leafs would likely need to add to their offer, but could picks and prospects or perhaps even Tyler Bozak be added to sweeten the deal?